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Didn’t Get Into Sundance? Try These 5 Animation Film Festivals

Written by ACR StaffMarch 6, 2017
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Though established film festivals such as Sundance and Tribeca welcome animation submissions, chances are slim that you’ll get in. Each year, Sundance receives more than 12,000 submissions for 118-125 feature film slots, 60-80 short film slots, 5-10 episodic project slots, and 20-40 virtual reality project slots. Tribeca receives more than 3,000 submissions for around 90 slots. Fortunately, there are ways to increase your chances of getting into a film festival. One way is to target festivals that have a specific animation category or those dedicated entirely to animation. 

Well, we did some of the targeting for you and are happy to inform you that we ended up with so many prospects we lost count. We can’t list them all here, but we think five of our favorites is a darn good start. Enjoy. 

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1. GLAS Animation Festival, Berkeley, California 

GLAS Animation Festival says that it introduces “new ideas and expanding the scope of animation by bringing new voices, new talents, new themes, and a new generation of independent filmmakers and curators to the United States. The Festival highlights “fresh voices in independent animation while curating special programs of the most significant periods of animation history that serve as an inspiration for contemporary animators.” Major sponsors include Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network Studios, and Cartoon Brew. 

Established in 2015, GLAS (GLobal Animation Syndicate) received 1,300 animation submissions for the 2017 festival. Short films must be 40 minutes or less, and feature films must be over 50 minutes. Films must also be a minimum of 50% animation. For fees, deadlines, and other information visit The festival takes place annually in March. 

2. SXSW Film Festival, Austin, Texas 

South by Southwest (SXSW) holds an animated shorts competition and the festival also has its own animation category. Founded in 1987, SXSW also welcomes submissions from the live action film, interactive, and music industries. The festival lasts for nine days in March, and short films screening in the Animated Shorts are eligible for Jury Awards. 

Though SXSW receives thousands of submissions each year, the organization is always eager to showcase new talent. To submit your film to SXSW, review the submission deadlines, read the in-depth information in the Film Submission FAQ, and watch the How To Submit Your Film video here or visit the official SXSW website

3. New York International Children’s Film Festival, New York, New York 

Each year the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) “scours the globe to present a highly selective slate of the best animation, live action, documentary and experimental film from around the world.” Per the website, “we are looking for creative, original, non-formulaic short and feature films that support our mission to create a more dynamic film culture for children and teens. We often program films that were not created with a young audience in mind, but are received passionately and enthusiastically by attendees ages 3-18 nonetheless. We are not shy about showing films with mature themes, subject matter, language or sensibilities. As an Academy qualifying festival, winners of the Festival’s juried prizes are eligible for Oscar consideration in the Best Animated and Best Live Action Short Film categories.” 

Founded in 1997, NYICFF is the largest film festival for children and teens in North America. Films are screened over the course of four weeks at venues throughout NYC. Narrowed down from roughly 2,500 international submissions, the Festival program consists of approximately 100 short and feature films. For submission guidelines, deadlines, and fees click here or visit the official NYICFF website

4. Animation Block Party, Brooklyn, New York 

The largest animation festival on the East Coast, Animation Block Party has been an official event since 2006. The Party is “dedicated to exhibiting the world's best independent, professional, and student animation.” Sponsored in part by Toon Boom, Rooftop Films, and Giphy, Animation Block Party (ABP) attracts more than 5,000 attendees each year and it features four days of panel discussions, exclusive showcases, after-parties and just over “100 of the world’s best new animated shorts in competition.” 

The festival takes place in July and submissions are accepted through June 5 of the same year. For fees, guidelines, and other submission information click here or visit the official ABP website. 

5. Northwest Animation Festival, Portland, Oregon 

Founded in 2010, Northwest Animation Film Festival aims to “present the largest, most astonishing collection of animation in the USA.” The Festival showcases “the art form’s diversity and helps more deserving artists get seen.” Festival events are produced in cooperation with arts organizations such as ASIFA-Portland, Experimental Film Festival Portland, LAIKA, Oregon Cartoon Institute, Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Boundary Crossings program, Seattle Experimental Animation Team, and White Box Gallery. 

The goal of Northwest Animation Film Festival (NAFW) is to screen 200+ films each year. This means talented animation filmmakers have a better chance of getting accepted. The Festival takes place in May. For deadlines, fees, and submission guidelines click here or visit the official NAFW website. 

Note: Information about the animation film festivals in this article was obtained from each festival’s official website. All information was current at the time this article was published. 


"Animation News, Animated Cartoons." Cartoon Brew. Cartoon Brew LLC, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. 

Baethke, Nadine. "The Animation Film Festival List." FilmFestivalLifeLine. FilmFestivalLifeLine (FFLife), 16 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. 

"Sundance Film Festival." Sundance Institute. Sundance Institute, n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. 

Zeiser, Anne. Transmedia Marketing: From Film and TV to Games and Digital Media. New York: Focal, 2015. Print.